New-Old Things (repost from FB August 10, 2014)

imageI’m embarrassed to admit the last time I went berry or anything picking was 2 age brackets ago so yesterday’s blueberry outing with friends was a welcome new-old venture. A leisurely drive up the winding country road to Pitcher Mountain on a warm and sunny Saturday morning set the tone for a relaxing day.

After gathering our baskets and buckets we walked up the main path together in search of blueberries to be mixed, frozen, snacked on, sprinkled, baked and pancaked. The loud and clear voices of other pickers nearby drew us to a quieter area to find bushes less picked over. I focused my attention on finding areas with abundant fruit in larger bunches deeper and deeper into the field, trailing off by myself. Treading carefully between branches and over old rock walls, I walked through a labyrinth of growth, periodically settling in an area abounding with mature berries waiting to be liberated.

Voices faded to low murmurs, the buzzing of a bee or fly became my soundtrack accented by the periodic laugh of an excited child. The morning sun and breeze created the perfect climate. My initial industrious intent to collect as many as possible, melded into a walking meditation, my sole focus seeking out these minuscule globes that grow wild, so miraculously without tending or interference. The power of nature captured in these sweet blue-purple orbs.

I was roused from my trance with the brisk ring of a text calling me back to the parking lot and to reality. We packed up our treasurers and descended back into the world on the bumpy dirt road leading to the honor box to account for our bounty on trust.

As I popped the fruits of my labor, yes literally, into my morning pancakes, I was able to appreciate them as much for their being as for the gift of nourishment and how wonderful they would taste with my morning coffee. A blessing in any age bracket.

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Stop Mowing the Weeds

I moved into my new-to-me house last September and have enjoyed watching things bloom and grow in my yard through the Spring and Summer.  I’m relieved to have a smaller yard (downsized from 2 1/2 acres); gardening and mowing are now doable tasks without committing an entire weekend. I’ve downsized my life as well: big yard to little yard; big house to little house; lots of stuff to less stuff; “frenemies” to friends; couple to single. I had to do a lot of weeding on all fronts during the transition and it wasn’t easy.

My previous yard had beautiful green grass. My new lawn, well, not so much. The dirt is more sand than anything else. The few times I’ve mowed, I kicked up enough dirt and sand to look like I just face-planted in a dirt pile. My friends know this is a very real possibility. I’ve managed to locate 6 or 7 healthy blades of grass among the dandelions, horse weed, crab grass, ragweed, quack grass, and mug wort (thank you Google Images). But as long as it looks like grass on the surface that’s good enough, right? For a minute maybe.

I went out this morning to weed and mow before the heat took over the day. The gardens looked good so I turned my attention to the lawn and the plethora of non-grass plants (weeds) protruding from same. I could clearly just mow over the weeds, like unpleasant problems, and move on with the rest of my yard.  But as I said, I’d done that before but the weeds kept coming back because the roots were still there, under the surface, ready to spring forth unbidden at any time.

I decided that today I would try the same approach with my lawn that I’d taken with my life. I would dig up the weeds first, thank them for keeping the soil together when nothing else would, and then unceremoniously toss them into the pile of detritus that no longer served a purpose in my life. I grabbed my pitchfork and shovel, my tools of destruction, to have at it.

The smaller weeds came out easily with a twist and turn of my hand. Gone. The larger weeds, the ones that had planted themselves and taken root many years ago, took quite a bit of effort and I considered just cutting off the tops to make things look better. But I was committed to doing the work to rid myself of them long term, roots and all. After about 45 minutes I looked around and realized that once I dealt with the weeds, the rest of the lawn looked pretty good.

Weeding is hard work. I fully anticipate that some of the weeds will return on occasion and some new weeds will appear as well. But now I have the tools to manage them. Stop mowing the weeds.

weeding